Majority of recent Hep A cases located in Alberni and West Coast

Fifteen of the last 17 cases of Hepatitis A diagnosed on Vancouver Island are from Port Alberni and the West Coast, VIHA officials say.

A majority of the Hepatitis A cases diagnosed in the last four to six weeks are from Port Alberni and the West Coast, Vancouver Island Health Authority chief medical health officer Paul Hasselback said.

“Of the last 17 cases that were diagnosed, 15 of them are from the Alberni Valley and West Coast,” Hasselback said. “We’ve seen clusters of Hep A in various locations but right now the cluster is there.”

The disease is also entrenching itself within a younger demographic. “Of those 15 nine are under the age of 19,” Hasselback said. There are few cases diagnosed among people over 30. “Older people usually have developed an immunity to it already, he added.

There are 91 cases of Hepatitis A which have been diagnosed on Vancouver Island so far, Hasselback said.

The spread is following a familiar pattern, Hasselback said. “This is consistent with what we’ve seen before with Hep A.”

According to Hasselback, the outbreak extends back to early August when the first cases were seen. The outbreak originated in Cowichan, VIHA spokesperson Shannon Marshall said.

The event has been classified by VIHA officials as an outbreak because of the rapidity with which the disease is erupting. “It’s spreading beyond patients’ immediate circle of contacts,” Hasselback said. “We don’t have full control of it yet.”

The spread of Hepatitis A is different from the Tuberculosis outbreak three years ago, Hasselback said. “This (Hepatitis A) is not about hygiene of overcrowded conditions,” he said. “This is about socialization.”

The aboriginal population has been particularly impacted by the Hepatitis A outbreak, but Hasselback wouldn’t disclose any numbers.

Socio-cultural factors such as close family and children-to-children interaction, as well as interaction generated by cultural activities create conditions in which Hepatitis A can spread with greater frequency, Hasselback said.

VIHA is employing a two-pronged strategy to combat the disease, Hasselback said. Firstly, vigorous tracing is being done by VIHA staff to find a patients closest contacts and give them a Hepatitis A immunizations.

And secondly, VIHA officials are working closely with Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal council health staff in a public education and immunization administering initiative.

More than 8,000 people on Vancouver Island have been given Hepatitis A immunizations so far.

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Just Posted

Cherry Creek firefighters mourn former deputy chief

Brian Brick is the second Alberni Valley firefighter to die of work-related cancer in January

Port Alberni to consider the future of McLean Mill

City council will be holding a committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 21

Intern gives Port Alberni’s museum artifacts an update

St. John’s man travelled more than 7,000 kms to assist with curatorial duties

BCHL: Bulldogs best Salmon Arm at home

Bulldogs face Powell River in Sunday matinee Jan. 20; puck drop is 2 p.m.

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Vancouver Island senior dies after medical emergency and rollover crash

Incident happened Saturday in Nanaimo on Poplar Street

Most Read